Tom from the United States
From a really young age my parents were really honest and clear about the biological aspects of sex. I even got in an argument with my best friend in first grade about how babies were made. I thought you had to put a penis in a vagina and then something happened and then there were babies. He on the other hand, was sure you just had to kiss literally everywhere on the entire body. We said we would go home and ask our parents but I forgot to ask mine, so I had to defer to him. Of course he said he was right and his parents had confirmed it, so that was a little confusing for a while until I realized he was a liar.
I have also always been pretty gregarious my whole life so I have always been a big talker. It wouldn’t be to everybody of course, but if there was someone I would click with, we would just have the wittiest and funniest conversations. Especially with girls. Even at a young age, we would just crack up and have these really flirty, really comfortable, but non-sexual, fluid conversations. There ended up being a ton of times where girls way out of my league (I was pretty dorky looking kid) would be so excited about our conversations and they would talk about it with their friends. Then I would hear through the grape vine that they liked me and that would be the end of our friendship.
I would just go into full panic avoidance mode because I didn’t know what that meant.
No one ever was like this is what happens after someone likes you. I knew there was some sort of sexual energy but no one sat down with me and said this is how sexual things work, there is consent and if someone doesn’t want something, you can just say no and everyone respects it. So instead, I just panicked and thought something would have to happen if I engaged in the relationship any further. I knew didn’t want to do any sexual stuff yet so I would just panic and avoid them and probably hurt their feelings because I went from being so close to just rejecting them in every way possible. I would avoid places and change the way I walked to different places throughout the day. Just horrible rejection as soon as they made themselves vulnerable and told me, or told someone else, they liked me.
I just felt like if I said yes, it was this no holds barred yes and I would have to do stuff I wasn’t ready to do. Even with my first girlfriend I was so uncomfortable with this idea of boundaries and saying no that after we stared doing some sexual things and she brought up the idea of us having sex, I broke up with her. It made me so uncomfortable because I knew I was not ready for it but I didn’t know how to have that conversation. It sounds insane now but I didn’t know how to have these conversations so I just fled the relationship and looking back, probably got construed as a little crazy. And now, I am an over communicating slut and I don’t really know how that transition happened.
Even if I got the more biological explanation of sex early on, there was never really a point where someone explained sex or sexuality to me outside of the basic penis and vagina thing. There are so many other aspects of sex and sexuality that are just as important as the penis in vagina. The two times I got closest to more information was when my mom and I were driving home from school one day and my mom literally stopped the car and said,
“Just so you know, sex is only for reproduction.”
I was twelve and I was just like wow, that literally was not based on any conversation that was happening in the car at all. It was really random and I feel like she just felt like she needed to say it at some point. We had a really quite rest of the ride home.
Then when it came to the school system, the only information we got was a woman yelling at us about how sex is for procreation and then we watched a video of a baby being born. The teacher rewound the VHS tape again and again so we watched the baby being born, being shoved back up in there, coming outof the woman, being sucked back in, coming out, then sucked back in. There was no conversation about consent; there’s no conversation period. There were a couple of vague words about STDs and babies and I was just like, oh my god, I don’t understand sex but now it’s associated with really weird feelings.
I think in the end though it made me slow down a bit and learn how to figure things out slowly without having to rush to sex. Between porn and dirty chatting on AIM (online messaging service) you kind of figure stuff out in your own time. There is this societal narrative so even if no one ever talks to you about it, you kind of are able to just step confusingly through the process. Like the first time I had a real girlfriend, I went to her house and I had no idea what was going on. She said we were just going to watch movies and eventually somehow we were making out. Then she guided my hand down into her pants and on her vagina, which was shocking because it was so soft and so wet. I just remember being like what is this thing, it’s amazing?! I didn’t know what I was doing but you kind of see what works and doesn’t work and give it all a try. You kind of figure out one way or another.